Supply Chain Management Blogs by SAP
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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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Over the past 18 months, the fragility of the global supply chain has been brought to the forefront of thinking for businesses and customers.

Companies now realize that supply chain resilience and agility is paramount to ensuring continual business operations and customer satisfaction.

And this message was front and center at the recent SAPPHIRE NOW event, which, for the second year it was 100% virtual which means that we can now access all the content online.

What is a Resilient Supply Chain?

We have long talked about the importance of visibility, agility, and resiliency, but not until now have they become the top priorities at the board level of companies around the world.

Resilient supply chains have a level of agility and responsiveness required to sense, predict, and respond to change during intense turbulence.

At SAPPHIRE NOW we identified for key strategies to help companies achieve a resilient supply chain.

1. Increase agility with synchronized planning

Synchronized planning is a closed-loop process of end-to-end supply chain planning and execution that aligns all supply chain functions (design, plan, manufacture, deliver, and operate). The idea is to empower all stakeholders to collaborate based on a single source of trusted data in real time.

Synchronized planning starts with the traditional long-term planning process – but also facilitates the kind of visibility, collaboration, and resilience required to make adjustments as circumstances change (and they will).

Ultimately, it connects planning to shop-floor operations, enabling you to flexibly make capacity determinations, modify schedules, manage inventory, and quickly line up the needed labor no matter what happens. The result is the agility you need to cope with supply chain risks at a time when disruptions can come from almost anywhere.

To learn how synchronized planning can help navigate changing market conditions to better balance supply and demand and increase service levels, click here.

2. Drive productivity with Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is the new industrial revolution. The idea is to use data, connectivity, and emerging technologies to improve real-time insight and automate processes.

Industry 4.0 is not exclusively about smart factories and “touchless” processes for manufacturing. It’s about the entire end-to-end supply chain – which also includes product design, logistics and delivery, and later-stage processes for equipment maintenance, service, and customer feedback.

Machine learning, for instance, can help identify patterns in supply chain data and predict disruptions before they impact business. Or digital twin technology can used to monitor assets in the field and maximize performance and uptime. Industry 4.0 technologies like these are helping to drive higher levels of productivity – even in the face of uncertainty and ever-changing customer requirements.

To learn more about how industry 4.0 can help improve productivity and agility across the supply chain click here.

3. Collaborate using business networks

Today’s reality is that nobody does business alone. Like most companies, you likely rely on a network of contract manufacturers, suppliers, logistics service providers, and other business partners to deliver value to customers. But when disruptions occur – or when new opportunities present themselves – you need the agility to find new partners and start working with them quickly.

Business networks can help. Business networks act as real-time supply chain orchestration platforms that facilitate supply chain planning and execution activities across globally dispersed partners. Based in the cloud, business networks standardize data sharing and common business processes, enabling partners to start collaborating on the fly. You can onboard new partners, share plans, make modifications, align the needed resources, and trigger production runs. This is the definition of agility.

To learn more about how business networks can improve collaboration and visibility with suppliers, contract manufacturers, logistics providers and other partners click here.

4. Transform processes to drive sustainability

A great deal of our global carbon footprint is associated with supply chain processes. But these processes can be changed to make the supply chain part of the solution.

As customers, regulators, and even shareholders and investors demand more sustainable products, leading organizations are sustaining profits as well as the planet by integrating processes across the design-to-operate lifecycle.

Each step of the production process has a role to play: product teams can design recyclable and environmentally sustainable products, planners can help ensure ethical sourcing and traceability, manufacturing equipment and plants can be designed to reduce carbon output, excess inventory disposal can be avoided, and transport can be optimized to lower emissions.

In a networked economy – with data analytics, machine learning, and digital twin technology at your disposal – you have more control than ever to measure your effectiveness on all these counts. And with business networks, it’s easier today to find partners that can plug into your sustainable processes and help you reach your goals.

Click here to see a great session on how technology can save venerable species by an organization named Elephants, Rhinos & People (ERP).

To get more insights about enabling a sustainable supply chain click here.

Watch our top SAPPHIRE NOW sessions to learn about resilient supply chains and the need to be predictive, intelligent, and agile to respond to supply chain dynamics.